The Pune Police have decided to seek help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States, to retrieve data from a damaged hard disk seized from the house of Telugu poet Varavara Rao arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case,an official said on Thursday.
The hard disk, seized from Rao's house during a raid in August 2018, was earlier sent to four forensic laboratories which failed to recover any data.
It was first sent to a Pune-based laboratory, where experts could not retrieve the data, an official associated with the probe said.
The hard disk was later sent to the Mumbai-based Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories, but experts there could not open it.
Similar attempts were tried at Gujarat and Hyderabad based forensic labs, but no data could be recovered, he said.
"Since labs of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are much advanced, the decision to send the hard disk there has been taken and necessary approvals have been given by the Union Home Ministry," the official said.
The prosecution recently submitted a draft chargesheet against 19 accused, including nine activists, who have already been arrested in connection with the case.
The nine Left-leaning activists arrested by the Pune Police in the case are - Varavara Rao, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj.
According to Pune Police, the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017 was supported by Maoists, and some inflammatory speeches made at the event led to caste violence at Koregaon Bhima war memorial in the district the next day.
Conspiracy to "assassinate" Prime Minister Narendra Modi and "overthrow" the government, besides "waging war" against the Government of India, are among the charges brought against all the 19 accused by the prosecution in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case.
However, many activists and members of the civil society have condemned the arrest and called it a crackdown on free speech.